The ending of the trial badger cull in Gloucestershire three weeks early is a clear sign it is not the right way forward in tackling bovine TB, protesters say.
Campaign group Shropshire Against The Badger Cull, set up by friends Jeanette Salisbury-Roberts and Pip Davies, is calling for the resignation or sacking of Owen Paterson because of his role in driving through the badger cull.
The cull ended at noon on Saturday, rather than the December 18 date originally planned, because of a failure to meet even reduced targets.
Those against the badger cull say that is evidence of the flawed process of culling and justification for their opposition to it.
They say any suggestion the cull should be extended to areas including Shropshire next years should now be discounted and other options investigated such as vaccination against TB in badgers.
The campaigners say the cull is not tried and tested and that by its very nature it is too random to be effective.
Ms Salisbury-Roberts, from Wern, Weston Rhyn, said today: "Whilst we're delighted that the cull has ended for now in Gloucestershire, we will still keep fighting to stop this totally unscientific method of dealing with bovine TB.
"Mr Paterson seems convinced that for now, this is the only way forward in the treatment of this awful disease. This is despite significant evidence to show that culling can in fact make matters worse.
"Infected badgers who are under threat may leave their sets and move into other areas, potentially spreading the disease.
"Not one of the badgers killed has been tested for TB – why has the Government passed up the ideal opportunity to obtain scientific data from the cull?
"If badgers can be caught in cages and shot, they can be caught and vaccinated – a process which is more morally acceptable and much more cost-effective than shooting."
Mrs Davies, a mother-of-three and teaching assistant from Oswestry, added: "The government's are just culling badgers because it is the easy option. It goes against all scientific proof that it is just not viable.
"It would be more viable to vaccinate badgers and control them, than to kill them. Farmers don't want to take any responsibility for their own bad practices.
"For instance there was a recent case of bovine TB up in County Durham. It didn't have a bovine TB problem before, so as far as we are concerned it is due to cattle being diverted in from the south. Nothing to do with badgers at all."
The women set up a page on Facebook – https:// www.face book.com/ shropshireagainstthe cull?fref=ts – and already have nearly 400 likes.
The RSPCA has also been an outspoken critic of badger culling. It today called for the whole issue to be reconsidered by the Government.
The charity's head of public affairs, David Bowles, said: "At last the Government has acknowledged that the culls have failed – they have failed to reach their target numbers and failed to do it in the allocated time.
"We just cannot understand why it took so long for this realisation to hit. It was patently clear at the end of the initial cull period in Gloucestershire that the numbers of badgers being killed were way off the intended target. The farce should have ended then.
"Instead we have a situation where more badgers have been needlessly killed, animals continued to be cage-trapped despite the appalling weather and where the problems of bovine TB in cattle could have been made worse not better in these areas."
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